OBT2

DanceWatch Weekly: The sun is out, let’s dance

The week in dance includes BodyVox, Ballet Hispanico, Imago, OBT2, PDX Contemporary Ballet and Rainbow Dance Theatre

The sun, the sun, I’m in love with the sun. Its warmth, its brightness and the immediate joy it brings me and hopefully you, too. Don’t you think everything looks different when the sun comes out?

I’ve forgotten about my body under the layers and layers of thick dark fabrics these winter months and especially my skin. I forgot that my skin senses too, and when it’s covered up for so long, I feel like I am suffocating. I want to focus on this tending to the body and its senses this week. Awakening our senses to more fully take in the experience of watching dance is where we’re at.

So, in addition to seeing all of the wonderful dance on my itinerary below, I’m going to move my body, too. Go for a walk, run, cycle, swim, or take one of Heather Wisner’s recommended dance classes from her National Dance Week diary. Get moving. But rest too and feed myself—I’m thinking delicious food, wine, and sweet sweets—and then go see dance. It will be that much better.

Performances this week

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Rainbow Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of Rainbow Dance Theatre.

Western Oregon University Spring Dance Concert
Featuring work by Rainbow Dance Theatre, faculty members Amy McDonnell, Cynthia Garner and Darryl Thomas and students Alaina Meyers, Andrew De La Paz, Caitlin Rose, Tunya Dhevahpalin and alumnus Kristie Martinez
May 10-12
Western Oregon University, Rice Auditorium 101, 345 Monmouth Ave., Monmouth

The Garden of Earthly Delights, a new work by Rainbow Dance Theatre’s artistic directors Valerie Bergman and Darryl Thomas, explores the 16th century triptych painting of the same name by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. The work, reveals the unexpected through a close examination of the three-panel painting that depicts the Bosch’s version of the Garden of Eden, hedonistic abandon, and Judgment Day.

“Our dance explores questions such as whether we’ve forever lost the state of grace depicted by the Garden of Eden,” explained Bergman in the press release. “Can we balance an attraction to the bizarre with a grounded life? Will we stand by silently as our world descends into a kind of hell, rather than spend our days actively reaching for peace?”

The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of many works being presented by faculty, students, and alumni as part of Western Oregon University’s annual Spring Dance Concert.

BodyVox dancer Jillian St. Germain in Rain & Roses. Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

Rain & Roses (world premiere)
BodyVox
May 10-19
The North Warehouse, 723 North Tillamook Street, Portland OR 97227
Set in an expansive and atmospheric North Portland Warehouse, BodyVox artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, along with choreographers and company members Alicia Cutaia, Jeff George, and Daniel Kirk celebrate the end of their 20th season with Rain & Roses; a collage of dance and live music that explores the evolution of human character.

Dance writer Elizabeth Whelan previewed Rain & Roses for Oregon ArtsWatch and gives five reasons why you might want to see the show here.

PDX Contemporary dancer Sari Hoke. Photo by Stephen Jennings.

Compose
PDX Contemporary Ballet and Northwest Piano Trio
May 11-13
New Expressive Works (N.E.W.), 810 SE Belmont
PDX Contemporary Ballet (PDXCB) under the director of choreographer Briley Neugebauer will present two ballets in collaboration with Northwest Piano Trio.

The first is Lara, a newly commissioned score by grammy-nominated musician, singer, and composer Clarice Assad with choreography by Neugebauer inspired by the legend of a great Amazonian warrior known known as Mãe das Águas (“Mother of the Waters”). Her brothers, jealous that she was a better warrior than they, tried to kill her, but she kills them instead. Her father, unaware that she acted in self-defense, tries to kill her as well and throws her into the river where she is transformed into a half-human, half-fish, instead of dying. Neugebauer’s choreography for Lara reflects the mood of the music and touches on the duality and symbolism of Lara’s fate.

The second dance, Swing Shift, is an up-beat, Balanchine-inspired work by Neugebauer, to the musical composition Swing Shift by Portland’s Kenji Bunch. The dance and music are inspired by the New York City nightlife and begins as the workers anticipate 5 o’clock.

The program also includes Frolic, a composition by Oregon composer Zach Gulaboff, to be performed solely by Northwest Piano Trio.

Ballet Fantastique’s Alice in Wonderland. Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

 

Alice in Wonderland (World Premiere)
Ballet Fantastique and High Step Society
May 11-13
Hult Center, Soreng Theater, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
With brand new choreography by Donna and Hannah Bontrager and live electro-swing music by High Step Society, Ballet Fantastique takes us on Alice’s journey through wonderland crossing genres and and expectations with a steampunk twist.

To Fly Again by Imago’s Jerry Mouawad.

To Fly Again
Imago, Jerry Mouawad
May 11-12
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8TH AVE (At East Burnside)
ArtsWatch’s Bob Hicks reviewed To Fly Again and says that “Mouawad’s own description, from the show’s press release, perhaps explains the simple mystery of the thing as well as it can be explained: “A zany group of clown musicians and a clan of clay-tossed dancers roam a barren land … The clowns’ thoughts arise and pass like clouds, the dating game appears out of nowhere in clashes of absurdity, while joy and pathos skim their nonsensical wordplay as the clowns search for a suitable place to make camp. Psychedelic and existential humor pervades; the clowns are constantly interrupted by a clan of dusty dancers who live in a world beyond speech. Tater, the most vulnerable of the clowns, yearns to fly again. Questions open up to further questioning, and talk of sadness is eclipsed by looking at the stars.”

California Flamenco dance Erika Lopez performing as part of Feria de Portland 2018.

Feria de Portland 2018
Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland
5 pm May 12
AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison Street
From 5 pm to midnight, on Saturday, at the AudioCinema under the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge, under the warm glow of string lights and fragrant flowers, you can experience the pulse and heat of flamenco music and dance, and the flavors of Spanish food.

Continues…

Dance Weekly: Dancers are from everywhere

This week: A month-long celebration of many Asian cultures through music and dance and new works by new companies

The beautiful, transitional month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This month was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10,1869 (the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants).

Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland will be hosting a month-long celebration with performances every Saturday and Sunday by local cultural organizations and dance troupes representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more.

This weekend China, Nepal, Indonesia and Cambodia will be represented by the Vancouver Jasmine Dance Troupe, Dance Mandal, Haiyan International Dance Academy, Cambodian Dance Troupe of Oregon, Ka Lei Hali’a O Ka Lokelani, and our very own ArtsWatcher Brett Campbell will be playing Saturday the 21st with Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan. This promises to be an exceptional experience. Check out the schedule for more information on all of the upcoming performances

Performances this week

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Victoria Chen performing the Chinese water sleeve dance as part of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at Lan Su Chinese Garden. Photo by Jingzi Zhao.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 1-29
Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everette St
See above.

Malposa Dance Company
Presented by White Bird Dance
7:30 pm May 4
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway
Visiting Portland for the first time and closing out White Bird’s 18th season, this Havana-based dance company was started in 2012 by Osnel Delgado, Dailedys Carrazana and Fernando Saéz. It mixes Cuban folklore with ballet and modern dance. The ten-member company will be performing three pieces Wednesday night only: Ocaso, choreographed by Artistic Director Osnel Delgado; Under Fire, choreographed by Trey McIntyre; and 24 hours and a dog, by Osnel Delgado with live music by Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble.

Dance Wire Dance Passport participant. Click for details.

The Portland Ballet om Trey McIntyre's Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

The Portland Ballet in Trey McIntyre’s Half-life. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

The Portland Ballet’s Spring Concert
May 5-7
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave
This annual spring concert danced by the students of The Portland Ballet will feature a wide range of styles from contemporary to classical with highlights from Trey McIntyre’s Half-Life, a raucus ballet choreographed to the music of Queen; the world premier of Gregg Bielemeier’s Separate Times (Similar To But Different Than); with an original score by Jeremy Reinhold; and Jason Davis’ Ochos Niñas en Rojo, to fandangos by the San Francisco Guitar Quartet. Also being performed will be George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie with music by Glinka, Anne Mueller’s adaptation of Marius Petipa’s romantic Raymonda Suite, and Jason Davis’ Simplicity to Chopin originally choreographed in 2012.

Dance Wire Dance Passport participant. Click for details.

I Just Want One Tiny Thing, And I Talk Too Much
WolfBird Dance
May 5-7
Studio Two at Zoomtopia, 810 SE Belmont, # 2
Co-directed by Selina DiPronio and Raven Jones, WolfBird Dance will perform an evening-length piece introspectively looking at the violence present in the creative process and the pain it takes to birth new ideas. “Thematically razing and remaking, devouring and constructing, six dancers trap themselves inside the fight of the creative subconscious to actualize its intent.”

Dance Wire Dance Passport participant. Click for details.

Photographer: Mercy McNab — with Joanna Hardy, Emily Schultz, Briley Neugebauer, Billy Bork and Mercy McNab

PDX Contemporary Ballet. Dancers are Joanna Hardy, Emily Schultz, Briley Neugebauer, Billy Bork and Mercy McNab. Photo by Mercy McNab.

From Within
PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 6-8
Alberta Abbey, 126 NE Alberta St
To dance or not to dance is the question that many dancers ask themselves when things do not go as planned. Combining poetry, the solo sounds of the cello by Hannah Hillebrand of Northwest Piano Trio, and a tenacious group of ballet dancers, PDX CB choreographers and dancers will explore what makes them want to dance in the face of opposition. The company will be performing new works by choreographers Matt Cichon, Sari Hoke, Joanna Hardy, Briley Neugebauer, Samantha Schilke and Alexandra Schooling.

Noontime Showcase: OBT2
Advanced students of the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre
12:00pm May 9
Antoinette Hatfield Hall rotunda, 1111 SW Broadway
As part of Portland’5 Centers initiative to make the performing arts accessible to everyone, the centers offer free noontime showcases by different performing arts groups from around Portland. As part of this program the pre-professional dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre 2, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s training program, directed by Lisa Sundstrom, will perform excerpts from August Bournonville’s Napoli, which was performed earlier in the season by the main company, along with several other works to be announced at the performance.

FormosaCircusArt2-438x400

Formosa Circus Art. Photo courtesy of Portland’5 Center For The Arts.

Formosa Circus Art
Presented by The Taiwanese Association of Greater Portland
7:30pm May 10
Antoinette Hatfield Hall, Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Hailing all the way from Taiwan, this 12-member troupe prides themselves on sharing the rich cultures of Taiwan while pushing the boundaries of the traditional circus, combining acrobatics, stunts, street dance, juggling, drumming,martial arts and extreme endurance with contemporary issues in a contemporary setting.

Coming up next week

May 12, WE’RE FROM HERE: 3 PDX dancers/film and performance, presented by KBOO Community Radio
May 12-21, EXPOSED!, Polaris Dance Theatre
May 14, Props to Bellydance!, Ruby Beh and Co.
May 14, Renée vs.The Rectangle and Oh, there you are, Nickels Sunshine and Renée Archibald
May 14-15, Coppelia, Portland Festival Ballet
May 20-21, TRACES, Sara Naegelin and Mark Koenigsberg
May 20-21, HAVA | חוה, The Holding Project
May 20-22, Now Then: A Prologue, Allie Hankins

Dance Weekly: Linda Austin for the win

"Beautiful Decay," DIVA Practice, "Pearl Dive Project" and so much more this week in Portland dance

This morning my husband posted a photo on my Facebook page of a person dressed in a suit holding a poster in front of her face that read “I am an artists, this does not mean that I will work for free, I have bills just like you. Thank you for understanding.”

Linda Austin, the co-director of Performance Works NorthWest understands that paying dancers is the right thing to do, which is why on Friday night she will be performing a solo adaptation of A head of time, to raise funds to pay the nine dancers in her new work, (Un)Made You, which will be performed in November at Shaking the Tree Theatre, part of a longer work called (Un)Made Solo Relay that unfolded over the past several years.

Austin also received a Challenge Grant from the James & Marion L. Miller Foundation. Miller will match new and increased donations up to $5000.

A head of time was an ensemble work that she made in 2012 that touched on (and was dedicated to) family members who had passed away ahead of their time. ArtsWatcher Bob Hicks saw the performance in 2012 and wrote about it affectionately for ArtsWatch. Martha Ullman West also weighed in on the performance in the comments section below the article. Both are very good reads and do a good job maybe helping a not-so-adept dance watcher understand how to look at abstract dance.

According to Austin, the solo will include a hammer, a balloon, video images, a ladder, extension cords and blankets. Weaving in the soundscape of Seth Nehil, Austin says she will form, re-form, dissolve and fragment our timescapes.

Austin and Jeff Forbes (Austin’s husband and a well-known lighting designer) recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of their space, Performance Works NorthWest, a community rehearsal and performance hall at Southeast 67th and Holgate. I interviewed Austin at the time of the anniversary celebration about her past, present and future.

I hope among the many entertainment possibilities available this weekend that you choose to fit in A head of time, one, because you are curious about Linda Austin the performer, and two, you think paying dancers for their hard work is a good thing too.

Continues…

A double dash of Dennis Spaight

OBT2 and Northwest Dance Theatre are reviving works by the late, great Portland choreographer

For lighting designer Peter West, a frequent collaborator with Dennis Spaight in the last years of the choreographer’s life,  “the door into [his] work was his musicality: his astonishing ability to compose lines of movement that complemented, expanded and illuminated music. And likewise his choices of music illuminated his movement phrases. His range was exceptional: Gershwin, Ellington, Vivaldi, Schubert, Copland, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Schumann – and even silence.”

West, commenting on a Feb. 7, 2013 ArtsWatch story, Remembering Dennis Spaight, 20 Years Later, had it right.

The young dancers of OBT2 rehearsing Spaight's "Crayola." Photo: Friderike Heuer

Rehearsing Spaight’s “Crayola”: Emma-Anne Bauman (front), Kimberly Nobriga (middle-left) and Paige Wilkey (middle-right); Siri Ell-Lewis (back-left) and Emily Parker. Photo: Friderike Heuer

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s founding associate artistic director and resident choreographer died more than two decades ago, but this spring, Spaight’s spirit and his talent are very much alive in the bodies of two groups of young dancers, Northwest Dance Theatre and OBT’s newly formed OBT2.  The ballets they are performing are quite different, but both bear the unmistakable stamp of an artist whose sensitivity to the human condition was just as acute as his ear for music.

NDT performs excerpts from Gloria on a mixed program Saturday and Sunday at Portland Community College Sylvania’s Performing Arts Center. Set to Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria Mass,” the ballet pays eloquent tribute to Spaight’s mother’s Catholic faith. Like the music, the dance is both celebratory and sad, the choreographer’s vocabulary a demanding mix of classical technique and modern expressiveness.  “Dance is my religion,” Spaight once told me, and this ballet, last seen in its entirety when OBT danced it in the fall of 1993 on an all-Spaight commemorative program that included Scheherazade and Rhapsody in Blue, is a richly beautiful manifestation of that creed.

When he listed “even silence” as part of Spaight’s musical range, West, who has redone the lighting for NDT’s production of Gloria, was surely referring to Crayola, which OBT’s youngest dancers will perform starting April 16 when the company concludes its 25th anniversary season at the Newmark with a repertory program titled Impact.

It is the impact of the dancers’ point shoes on the floor of the stage that provides the accompaniment for a work that is not about dancing crayons, but about incorporating American Sign Language into the classical vocabulary and turning a social occasion—in this instance young ladies at a teaparty—into a dance.  Crayola, which Spaight made for Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1979, is not, as Gloria is, a major work. But it does show that very early in his sadly curtailed career, he had full command of his craft and a light touch with it. An excellent vehicle for young dancers (it contains some exuberant movement involving chairs), Crayola, I was told by Alison Roper last fall, is fun to dance.  It is certainly fun to watch. Both ballets were staged by Spaight Trust repetiteur Carol Shults with loving care, judicious adjustments, and unimpeachable dedication to the choreographer’s intent.

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Schedule and ticket details for Northwest Dance Theatre’s performances are here.

Schedule and ticket details for Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Impact are here.